The JEC varsity Thunder won it fifth consecutive yeshiva league Game, as it improved its record to 5-7 in the West division, with a win over Kushner 67-60.
The Thunder needs to win out and finish 7-7 and hope that Kushner can beat Ramaz on February 7, in order to get into the playoffs. With this loss, Kushner is eliminated from playoff contention. For the Thunder now, each game is a playoff game, as the crew from Elizabeth tries to win out for the remainder of the season. JEC still has Ramaz at home on Monday night, February 5, and and on senior night, February 6, the Hillel Heat, also at home in Elizabeth.
In this game, the Thunder employed a specialty defense against the Kushner star, center, Gabe Plotsker, recognizing that he is the straw that makes the Cobras drink (for those of you who do not know this expression, check out Reggie Jackson). In the earlier game between these community rivals, won by JEC 76-65 on December 30, 2017, Plotsker dominated the game for Kushner, tallying 18 points to go with 14 rebounds.
On a cold Saturday night, for JEC, junior Jacob Winters was given the job of guarding Plotsker mano a mano, and behind Winters, senior Shmuel Moore had the unenviable task.
Both Winters and Moore performed admirably, and they teamed to hold the high flying, talented Cobra to seven points, three rebounds, and disqualification in the fourth period as he accumulated five fouls. What JEC did not count on was the sharp shooting of guard Harry Steel (20 pts) and Jonathan Kirsch with 11 points.
JEC controlled the game throughout and built a six point half-time lead, into a 13 point lead into the fourth quarter. With Plotsker out of the game in foul trouble, Steil netted three treys in the final period, and Jake Indyk (11 pts) added four pts. But, JEC’s shooting guard, Moshe Heller (23 pts), scored six points for JEC (4-4 from the charity stripe in the final period) and JEC held off the determined Kobras, 67-60.
Leading the scoring for JEC was Moshe Heller with 23 pts (11-12 from the foul line), PG Yair Kimmel with a varsity career high 18 points (Kimmel had just established his career high against Derech Hatorah, with 16 points, as Kimmel continues his rise to elite status), Winters with 12 points to go with his superlative defense and Joe Matthew with 14 points.
For Kushner, Steil had 20, Indyk and Kirsch 11 each, and Plotsker finished with seven points.
The final week of the season will be exciting and excruciating for JEC. This is what playoff basketball is all about. After last year’s winless season, being in the hunt again is a great reward for the Thunders’ hard work.